|In the Eyes of a Dragon
Author: Badger250 PM
This is the story of a guy named Radi who lives in an empire ruled by evil. His job is to make things right, with help of course.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 19 - Words: 39,851 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 03-12-06 - Published: 07-20-04 - id: 1670771
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Radi traveled quickly, trying to avoid catching the attention of unfriendly eyes. Every once and awhile he would pause, listening for any unnatural sounds in the quiet forest. When he continued, he would change his direction as if to throw off followers. Even with the ground carpeted by leaves and a thin layer of snow, his steps seemed to make no sound at all, like a silent phantom gliding through a graveyard of trees.
Though it was spring, the air was cold and the sky was gray. The sun rarely broke through the clouds, and misery stood out of everything. This was Accria. The country where the sun didn't shine and the most common color is gray. Radi stopped and looked around, hating it. He hated the silence, he hated the gloominess, he hated everything about it. He hated the fact that it seemed to never go away and he was helpless against it. And most of all, he hated the emperor who brought all the misery and gloominess to the land.
Well, nothing will change if I just stand here, he thought to himself. With another glance around he continued his journey, his only comfort was the hard, heavy weight of his blade against his right hip and his bow strapped to his back.
A bird cried in the distance toward the north, causing him to turn quickly. Birds were seldom heard in these woods and Radi wondered what had disturbed it. Through the naked branches in the trees' canopy, he saw the monstrous form of the great mountain Mithorod. It was so huge that over half of it was concealed in the clouds. It was Radi's destination. Hidden underneath the mountain's great bulk was a city where all the rebels against the emperor, known as the Watchers, came together.
Radi stared at Mithorod, marveling at its perfect cover. All of the tunnels going into the mountain were so well hidden that its enemy could sit right next to it and never notice. Even if it was noticed, there was still a labyrinth of passageways to consider. Radi smiled, thinking of how proud the Watchers are of their home.
His thoughts were cut off when another bird cried. He looked around, worried. Something must have upset the bird enough for it to disturb the forest's silence. Radi strained his ears, trying to hear what caused it to cry out. He stood still for minutes, not daring to move lest he misses the sound that he was listening for. The wind blew softly, rustling a few loose leaves. There was a tiny trickle of water from a nearby stream. The only noise was the silence of a forest.
Just as Radi started to move, he heard another bird cry. It was closer than the first two, and clearer. The cry sounded more like the screech of a hawk than any other bird but it was too high pitched. No hawk could make a screech that high or that loud. Radi searched the horizon, looking for the creature that made the cry. All he saw was the grey clouds and the barren trees.
Panicking, Radi searched for a safe place to hide. He remembered the words of his uncle, "The only thing worst than an enemy that's out to kill you is not knowing where that enemy is." In the corner of his eye, he saw a tall pine tree with low branches stretching out. With another glance in the direction of the cry, he scrambled through the branches to the trunk, trying not to leave any signs of where he was hiding.
Minutes stretched by and the forest was silent. All Radi could hear was his own breathing. His legs began to cramp from his crouched position, the pain nearly sending tears to his eyes, but he didn't dare to move, afraid the one of the emperor's monsters would jump out of the shadows. Radi stayed in hiding until he saw the sun had lowered. Feeling like a fool, he began to rise.
There was another screech, not more than a hundred feet from Radi's hiding place. This time the screeched was accompanied by low voices. As Radi sank back to a crouch, half a dozen men came through the trees into view. All of them were hooded and cloaked, moving fast with their backs to Mithorod as though searching for something. When he saw this, Radi had to restrain himself from laughing out in relief. Now that he saw the men, he recognized the screech they had made. It was how the Watchers communicated out of the mountain. As the men passed the pine tree, Radi lifted his hand to his mouth and screeched.
Five of the men jumped from the tree, pulling out their swords. The one who remained where he was threw back his hood while Radi stepped out, laughing. "Radi, you scoundrel! You can't waste time playing like that! How long have you been there?" he said, trying to sound stern without much success.
"Long enough to see you jump like a scared little girl, Uncle Mason," Radi managed when he finally caught his breath. Before his uncle could scold him, he started toward the mountain. "What are you doing way out here anyway? Have you lost something?"
"As a matter of fact, yes. I have three parties out looking for you," Mason said rather curtly as he followed. He signaled to one of his men, who ran off to find the other search parties. Radi looked around at the men, confused. Why would my uncle send three search parties out for me? He knows I come out here just about every morning. I wonder if anything has happened.
Mason turned his attention back to his nephew with a serious face. "Why didn't you answer the calls? It would have saved us a lot of trouble," He said, stepping over a dead log. He looked searchingly into Radi's face. Radi knew how his uncle tests his honesty so he told the truth. "I wasn't sure it was the call," he replied. "I hid to be sure it wasn't a trick."
Mason nodded and turned towards Mithorod, walking in deep thought. It took until noon for the party of men to reach the mountain's tree line, and when they did, they worked their way to thorn bushes next to two great boulders. Mason stepped forward and swung one of its branches back, like a disguised door. One by one the men disappeared into the thicket until only Mason and Radi was left. "In you go Radi," Mason gestured, and Radi followed the rest of the men.
The hidden pathway behind the thorny door was very short, but hard to maneuver through. Every time Radi stepped an inch to the side, his cloak got caught on the branches surrounding him. More than once, he heard his uncle swear behind him in frustration. At the end of the path was a small crevice in between two boulders. Mason and Radi had to take of their swords and quivers off in order to fit through. They crawled in the tight spot with their weapons stretched in front of them until they reached a spot in the rock that was carved away for room. With some help from the other men, Radi pulled himself up and looked around. They were inside the mountain!
"I know you're glad to be home," Mason said with a muffled voice. "But please move out of the way!" Radi jumped aside and helped his uncle out of the crevice. Mason stood up and looked around. "Thank you. Hey, Seth! Is that you? Come here!"
A young soldier ran over, smiling. "Yes, sir?' he said with a quick glance at Radi.
"Have the other two search parties arrived yet?" Mason asked, dusting himself off.
"Yes sir. One came through the river bank entrance and the other came through the dead tree stump on the north side." Seth answered quickly. Again, he looked at Radi. With a slight movement of his head, he signaled Radi to come off to the side.
Mason saw his gesture and smiled. "All right then. You can go. I'll call you if I need a message sent. Until then, take a break and don't get into trouble. Radi, I need your help with something so try not to dawdle," he said. Then he was off, traveling quickly through the crowded tunnel.
Radi watched him until Seth grabbed his arm and dragged him farther into the mountain. When the tunnel grew bigger, and there was space to step off to the side, Seth slowed his pace. "I was on the north side when the search team arrived," he said, looking sideways at Radi. "I heard the men talking about the new assignment." He smiled mischievously.
A chill went through Radi's spine. Every time Seth hears some news, something goes terribly wrong. He sighed. "Okay, Seth. What did you hear? Is it going to be dangerous?"
"Extremely! And I heard that you had to go as well!" He seemed to be glowing with excitement for his friend. Radi, however, was not as excited.
"WHAT? Impossible! I'm too young and I've never even been on a raid. What you heard were rumors, nothing more." Radi tried to walk away, but Seth followed.
"If they didn't need you, then why did your uncle send out three search parties for you? I mean three! That is a bit much, isn't it?" he said quickly before Radi could cut him off. "And you are the only one who understands those strange runes in your uncle's portrait."
Radi stopped and looked at the tunnel's ceiling. That can't be it. My uncle knows that I can't even understand half those words. "Listen Seth. Mason is waiting for me. I have to go." He left Seth standing in the tunnel and hurried to the mountain's center. He was disturbed by the notion of going on assignment. He had never killed anything before except deer and a few birds. He had only used his sword in training, never to save his own life or take the life of another. To top it all off, he was simply too young. At seventeen, he had an entire year to become man. It would be insane. Radi passed through a large room where some off the horses were kept. He looked around him trying to find a distraction but nothing exciting was happening, so he continued on.
It took about an hour for Radi to reach the central cavern but it was worth the effort. The cavern was huge, big enough for a small city. Most of the structures held smithies, food storage and distribution, and supply storage. There were apartments built into the cavern's walls that held the fighters and their families. On the eastern side, there was a large clearing, a space where the soldiers did their training. It was also used for the main stables. At night, the horses were brought in from pasture to sleep in safety. In the very middle of the cavern was a huge white pillar. It ran to the very top of the cavern, higher than the eye could see. A great stairway wrapped itself around the pillar, going to its different levels. The lowest level was a great white library. This was the center of everything. All the supply and food records, as well as records on all the people living in Mithorod, could be found there. It was also the military headquarters.
Radi headed straight to the building. He knew Mason spent most of his time there, especially with the new assignment being planned. After climbing a few white steps, Radi sighed. He wanted to find out what was going on but he was afraid to. He wasn't ready to go on any assignment. With a trembling hand, he pushed the heavy doors open and walked in.